June 16, 2006

Geraniums lack snob appeal

Pink ivy pelargoniumHow many articles have you read lately on container gardening that contained a sentence along the lines of: "Geraniums are just so passé!"




I happen to like geraniums. And marigolds, and impatiens, and alyssum, and - forgive me - even petunias. You see, there's a reason the old standbys are the old standbys. They grow well, flower lavishly, look good and don't argue back. Ivy pelargoniumAnd I, for one, can't see for the life of me why that shouldn't be enough for me to love them. The most important criteria for me when I plant something are: does it look good, does it make me happy, and will it survive? I really don't much care whether some diva somewhere thinks it's "hip". (Just in passing, my kids say that anybody who says they're hip has just proved they're not. At least we agree on one thing!)

Some of the creative new containers I've seen make me drool, they're so beautiful. Others - well, they just look like a jumbled mess. Even in glossy professional photographs with exquisite lighting they just don't do it for me. Am I the only one who thinks the king is naked?

Do fads and fashion have any place in the garden? Well, I'm certainly not against trying something new. And I do try to get some variety from year to year with my annuals. But it seems to me there's something fundamentally wrong with one-upsmanship in any context. Potted pelargoniums with Rosamund Cole cannaSo when I decided to try putting Rosemond Cole cannas in my big terra cotta pots this year, I fronted them with white and red geraniums. Sure, three out of five neighbours had red geraniums too. But they look good, they make me happy and they will survive the furnace-like conditions just off of the parking lot.

And just to make today's posting a little more useful than a mere rant: I put wadded newspaper in the bottom of virtually all my containers before adding the potting soil. In addition to preventing the soil from trickling out the bottom, it has much the same effect as the moisture crystals that are all the rage. It helps hold the moisture in the pot and reduce the frequency of watering.

Again, not much snob appeal here unless you happen to think that using everyday materials to achieve the same results as spending money on high-end products has a certain elegance to it.

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